Transitional Justice

Transitional Justice

Transitional Justice

Transitional Justice

Synopsis

At the century's end, societies all over the world are moving from authoritarian rule to democracy. At any such time of radical change, the question arises: should a society punish its ancien regime or let bygones by bygones? Transitional Justice takes the debate to a new level with an interdisciplinary approach that challenges the very terms of the contemporary debate. Teitel explores the recurring question of how regimes should respond to evil rule, arguing against the prevailing view favoring punishment, and contending through historical and comparative illustrations that the law nevertheless plays a profound role in periods of radical change. She proposes a new normative conception of justice--one that is highly politicized--offering glimmerings of the rule of law that, in her view, have become symbols of liberal transition.

Excerpt

This book project was inspired by the heady wave of liberalization at the end of the twentieth century. In the early 1980s, a debate emerged regarding the implications of "transitional justice" for states' liberalizing prospects. The question of "punishment or impunity," whether there is an obligation to punish in democratic transitions, was the subject of a policy meeting convened in 1990 at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York, for which I was invited to prepare the background discussion paper. At the time, I concluded that, despite the moral argument for punishment in the abstract, various alternatives to punishment could express the normative message of political transformation and the rule of law, with the aim of furthering democracy.

With the collapse of the Soviet Union and the fall of the Berlin Wall, the question of transitional justice took on renewed urgency. Those of us who had been involved in the debates concerning the Latin American transitions participated in debates convened in East and Central Europe. There the debate over punishment broadened to include the implications of the sweeping decommunization measures pervasive in the region. In 1992, I received a grant from the U.S. Institute of Peace to begin this comparative project and to advise governments on the issues of justice in transitions. Participating in several conferences in the region helped shape the issues: "Political Justice and Transition to the Rule of Law in East Central Europe," sponsored by the University of Chicago and by the Central European University in Prague in 1991, and the Salzburg Conference titled Justice in Times of Transition in 1992, convened by the Foundation for a Civil Society. In 1993, at a conference, Restitution in Eastern Europe, convened by the Central European University, I presented ideas that were later elaborated on in the chapter on reparatory justice. My ideas concerning the role of historical inquiry were shaped by a conference I helped organize at the Central European University, Budapest, in the fall of 1992, and elaborated on in a paper delivered at a conference convened in 1994 at Yale Law, School titled Deliberative Democracy and Human Rights. Fur-

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.